Research by LinkedIn has suggested that sales and marketing teams often work against each other rather than in unison, causing businesses to lose significant revenue opportunities.
According to LinkedIn's Matt Tindale, APAC head of enterprise for marketing solutions, and Mark Dick, sales solutions director for Australia and New Zealand, customer experience is now more important than the actual product or service, and businesses are no longer competing just against their immediate competitors – they are competing against “every experience ever”.
Part of this customer experience relies on personalisation, but LinkedIn found that poor communication and collaboration are actually contributing to customer dissatisfaction.
“Sixty-three per cent [of respondents] who admitted poor collaboration said they had missed business opportunities,” said Matt.
More than half (55 per cent) of the businesses profiled on LinkedIn had sales and marketing employees who were not even connected with one another.
In the US alone, the problem of poor collaboration leading to customer frustration is wiping out an estimate $US1 trillion in revenue each year.
Consultant and author Peter Strohkorb agrees with the survey’s findings, adding that “Often marketing and sales talk more about each other than to each other”.
Matt explains that, generally speaking, businesses operating in the B2C space are more aligned in their customer-facing communications than those in the B2B space.
Example in action
For Mark, a recent personal experience highlighted why it is so important for a business’ sales and marketing teams to deliver a unified, personalised approach when engaging with customers.
“My brother-in-law owns his own concrete business and a number of vehicles that he has to insure, and I went to help him out with that recently,” he recalls.
“I went onto a comparison site, logged on and received a deliberate advert to receive a free quote. 'Sure, that’s exactly what I’m looking to do.' So I engaged with that, received the quote, closed down the web page.
“On the Monday, I get to work and my phone rings, and sure enough it’s diligent salespeople following up from the lead that had come through the website. I answer the phone, they asked if I received the quote and if there’s anything else they could help with. ‘Yes, I did, all very good, decided to go with another company, thank you very much’, and I hung up the phone.
However, Mark became increasingly frustrated when the calls did not cease.
“What then proceeded to happen was an example of poor collaboration between sales and marketing. What I received from then on, day after day for nearly a whole week, was their colleagues calling me back saying ‘I know you weren’t interested in that, but I want to sell you life insurance’. And this was completely off the back of something that had nothing to do with life insurance, and even though I said to them ‘I have life insurance, no thank you’, [they] consistently called back with the same thread, the same narrative, trying to engage me.
“At the end of that, I stopped answering my phone. I know the number now, it’s an 03 number and I just choose to decline it every single time. What’s happened is I’m a frustrated potential customer – I was once a potential customer, I won’t be any more – and now I ultimately have a view of that brand that is not positive.”
As well as encouraging sales and marketing personnel to work more closely with one another, there are things that can be done to help facilitate this change.
Cloud-based marketing is one way of achieving this, as the very nature of cloud-based information provision and storage promotes greater transparency among employees.
For Matt, businesses seeking to unify their approach to customer interactions between their sales and marketing teams need to focus on three key points:
- Who: align your target customer base to ensure all messaging is consistent;
- What: share the knowledge of your customers across teams so that everyone knows what that customer wants and needs in order to deliver a personalised service;
- How: coordinate customer engagements, so that instances like Mark’s example do not lead to customers getting the wrong impression of your business.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.